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The art of birdwatching

Lots of people who work at Bush Heritage enjoy birdwatching – both out on our nature reserves and in local suburban areas. We even have a club and a competition to see who can see the most different bird species.

Here's why we love it and how you can get involved too.

There are 3 main steps to birdwatching

1. Find out where there are local birds

If there are local parks or nature areas, they might be good spots to see birds. If you have a lake, creek or water body, it’s a good bet some birds will be drawn to it.

You might be lucky enough to have a backyard that attracts birds or see them from your window or balcony. If you have trouble finding birds, the ebird website can show you hotpots nearby.

Birds illustration by Donna Hunt.

2. Collect clues about the birds you see

One of the things we love about birding is that it takes you out into nature and helps you notice more about your surrounds. Take some binoculars if you have them and a notepad – because as well as seeing some birds you’ll be collecting clues about what species they are.

Take a photo, draw a picture or write some notes. Here are some important things to notice:

What does each bird look like? Maybe it has long legs, maybe a short, sharp beak or a flat bill? Perhaps it’s got strong wings or bright colours?

What’s each bird doing? Drying its wings in the sun? Browsing for foods? Chasing (or being chased by) other birds? Flying? Swimming? Building a nest? Feeding its young?

What sounds does the bird make? Is it a loud squawk, quiet chirp or does it sing a melody?

3. Identification – use your clues to solve the mystery!

Researchers at Cornell University have made the free Merlin Bird ID app to help everyone identify birds. It’s easy to use the ‘Explore’ function to see photos and hear calls from local birds. Can you match them with birds that you’ve seen? If so, you can add that species to your list as an official observation!

Going on a bird hunt

Some birds like to wake up really early with the sun. At different times of day you might see different birds. As the seasons change, you may find different birds in your area.

Are there birds that you haven’t added to your list yet, that you know live nearby?

Perhaps you can head out into the forest to look for a Lyrebird or to the beach to record a Pelican. If you’re going on holidays, new places are great opportunities to see different birds.

Birding is a life-long learning process that can be fun for the whole family!

Fairy Wren illustration by Donna Hunt.

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